I get lots of questions, especially now as everybody is revving up for the new season, and I’ll try to answer them all before I hit the road for the filming for months. I’ll post some Q&As here as often as I can in hopes some of the info will help you kill a good buck.
If you could set a tree stand in only one spot, where would that be?
On a hardwood ridge where the predominant wind will stay in my favor most days, and where I can see down into a creek or river bottom with thick cover. Across America, whitetails are bottomland animals. No matter where you hunt, if you watch a creek or river funnel with fresh buck sign for a week, you almost can’t help but to see at least one shooter. The more cropfields nearby the better.
Is it true that a big rub was made by a big buck with a big rack?
Sometimes and sort of… A mature buck with a thick, powerful neck most certainly thrashed a tree as thick as your calf or even your thigh, but the size and configuration of his rack is anybody’s guess (might be a really aggressive 130-class 8-pointer, or might be a huge 10-pointer). But in any case, a big rub is great sign, and 3, 4 or more noticeably big rubs in a small area are better yet. They tell you that at least one mature buck (at least 3.5 to 5.5 year olds and with a rack you’d want on your wall) is living close by, quite possibly within 300 acres or so. Hunt in there.
I’ve spotted two 6-pointers, an 8-point and one really nice 10 with some stickers and junk together in a bean field all month. Will the big deer be around when bow season opens?
That bachelor’s club will start breaking up in late September and by mid-October most of the boys will be traveling solo or maybe in a pair as the rut approaches. Some of those bucks might move a mile or more to new winter range while many of them—hopefully the big 10 you’ve been watching–will stay right there. Keep glassing the field and hunting in the surrounding woods. Your chances of seeing the big one are not guaranteed, but good. And remember, a large new buck you have not seen before is apt to bump off a nearby property and move into your hunt area to spend the fall and winter. You’ll gladly take him.
I’m a weekend warrior with little time to scout and only a few days to hunt in gun season. How can I get my buck?
Plan now with your boss to take off the first 2 days of gun season. Check Google Earth or go old-school and get your hands on an aerial photo of the land you’ll hunt. Look for a secluded ridge, creek bottom, clear-cut, etc. with thick cover ¾-quarter-mile or so off a logging road. (The farther back you hunt the better, but remember it will be a long drag out with your buck—think positive!) Sneak back into your spot in the dark each morning, and set up a stand, or just sit on a hill where you can see and shoot a good way. You might see and shoot your buck on Day 1…by the second day the pressure and guns booming all around will push deer back toward the thick cover you’re watching. By Day 3 of any gun season, the deer are wired and the woods are all stirred up, so hunt hard those first 2 days.
Mike, what precautions do you take to eliminate your scent?
I wash my camouflage in a scent-eliminating detergent and dry the clothes outside. I shower and scrub my body/hair with scent-free soap before every morning hunt, and I try to shower again at midday before the PM hunt. In the woods, I spray my clothes, day pack, safety harness, tree-stand seat and other gear with Scent Killer. My scent system is pretty basic and simple, but it has worked for me for many years, and it will work for you too.